Carolyn Sklarchyk
Carolyn Sklarchyk. (Courtesy of Carolyn Sklarchyk)

Each creation incorporates personal items that reflect the subject’s interests, experiences and personality.

While many of us spent the past year decluttering our homes, some things were just too precious to part with. If you can’t bear to give away your late father’s tie collection, your mother’s colorful array of scarves or your daughter’s childhood dance costumes, Kiwykeepsakes will turn those cherished memories into colorful throw pillows, striking wall hangings and other unique works of art.

Kiwykeepsakes — the Kiwy stands for “Keep it with you” — was conceived by Carolyn Sklarchyk, West Bloomfield weaver and former social worker. The creations are handmade by Sklarchyk and other “Kiwy Krafters” that include weavers Michael Daitch and Rayme Jacobs, who is also a co-founder, and sewist Susan Tauber.    

Both sides of a pillow made by Phyllis Adelsberg to celebrate her son Joel’s graduation from medical school.
Both sides of a pillow made by Phyllis Adelsberg to celebrate her son Joel’s graduation from medical school. Courtesy of Carolyn Sklarchyk

Each creation incorporates personal items that reflect the subject’s interests, experiences and personality. Projects have included pillows made from concert tees for the music lover; school sweatshirts or sports memorabilia for the graduate; summer camp swag for the grown-up camper’s birthday; wedding keepsakes for the anniversary couple — the ideas are boundless. 

The idea for Kiwykeepsakes came to Sklarchyk about 10 years ago, after the death of her mother.

Kiwykeepsakes turned those treasured tutus into a beautiful pillow.
Kiwykeepsakes turned those treasured tutus into a beautiful pillow. Courtesy of Carolyn Sklarchyk

“I was cleaning out her closet, and so much of her clothing brought back so many memories. I decided to weave several pieces of her clothing into a pillow. It’s an instant reminder of all those good times,” said Sklarchyk, who began weaving as a teenager.

When her father passed away two years ago, her fellow weavers surprised her with a pillow made from his favorite ties. It has become one of her most treasured possessions. 

A pillow made from their beloved dog’s blanket brought comfort to a grieving family, while a mother celebrated her son’s graduation from medical school with a pillow made from his lab coat.

A pillow woven from the blanket of a beloved family dog.
A pillow woven from the blanket of a beloved family dog. Courtesy of Carolyn Sklarchyk

In addition, personalized laser cut leatherette tags, called Kiwy Kards, made from photos provided by the customer, have become a popular accompaniment to the pillows, purses and wall hangings.

Now that COVID restrictions are lifting, Sklarchyk and her staff look forward to creating innovative gifts for long-delayed celebrations such as weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, and parties commemorating birthdays, anniversaries and graduations. 

While Sklarchyk has been weaving for friends and family for many years, she officially started Kiwykeepsakes in 2018, after a career as a professional social worker and a stint as Fiber Arts Facilitating Artist at the Farber Soul Center in West Bloomfield. Now, she has come full circle. 

A teddy bear made from the clothes of a newborn’s late grandpa.
A teddy bear made from the clothes of a newborn’s late grandpa. Courtesy of Carolyn Sklarchyk

“I’ve returned to my first love — weaving,” she said, “and it’s not just the weaving, but helping people celebrate life events or cope with life events. It’s like I get to combine social work and weaving together. I love people’s stories!”

Local deliveries are safely made by Sklarchyk’s son, and accomplished artist, Sam Morris, who will be joined by Soul Center artist Alyssa Gold. Shipping is also available. 

For more information, visit the Kiwykeepsakes Facebook page at facebook.com/Kiwykeepsakes-796701377365673/, email kiwykeepsakes@gmail.com or call (248) 505-6269.

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